Hero XPulse 200: 4,076km Long-term Review

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  • Nov 24, 2019
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Our XPulse 200 has been toiling away since its arrival - explains why you haven’t seen it yet!

For a motorcycle with just 1,899km on the digital odometer, our XPulse 200 looked a bit worse for wear. ‘That’s barely past run-in!’ I protested within my head as I carefully circled it in the bowels of a crammed (typical Hero dealership, you’ll agree?) parking lot. Bent handlebar, a loose headlight, about a dozen screws that had come undone, bent brake lever, rusted exhaust header pipe and drive chain… ugh!

There was evidence to suggest it had been to a certain off-road event (in the form of muck that hadn’t been hosed down, and a sticker that explicitly gave away details of its last outing). Good, because this is exactly the sort of bike you should take to an off-road event. But for all the fun someone had with it, they didn’t think it appropriate to give the poor motorcycle a half-decent wash. It fired up to a gruffer note than I had experienced at the first ride - or maybe I was imagining it - and as I hesitantly crawled out of the parking lot, I noticed the steering feeling particularly hard. This, as it turns out, was down to the tyre pressures (deflated, for off-road use) which had about 10 psi in them! I wondered what else I was about to discover, but I was keen on not letting the XPulse wait a day longer at Hero’s efficient but characteristically busy service outlet. So I rode it home, drew out the tool box and set about fixing most of what I could. This is a good activity because it, both, fixes your bike and helps you examine the motorcycle from closer quarters than riding it can.

It took the better part of an afternoon to cautiously bring the XPulse back to shape. I couldn’t find a fix for the rusted exhaust (it’s probably salinated water/muck that was left to dry rather than being jet-washed - sucks!) but all it took was some amateur TLC to start feeling like a proper XPulse again. In a way, it was a good learning because an XPulse will find itself being ridden and abused often in its life and it’s nice to know it doesn’t take much to fix it. What would be nice of Hero is if it could supply a better quality tool kit with the XPulse - the one our bike came with simply wanted to round off all the nuts! Had enough of reading about a stationary motorcycle? The next bit will interest you more.

In about three days since it arrived, I pointed the XPulse’s beak in the direction of Goa (heard of it before?) for the purpose of journalistic duties to be carried out at the 2019 BMW Motorrad GS Trophy qualifiers. My second excuse was ‘it’s going to be good practice,’ but thankfully I never had to use it. The 1200km round trip was the most blissful I’ve had in a while. Sure, it lacks the top-end to cruise at above 90kmph but given the sturdy, long-travel suspension, you can also hold pretty much the same speed on roads that are entirely in shambles. Its fuel-efficiency of over 40kmpl meant I had to make just one stop towards the tail-end of the journey (Goa has cheap petrol, if you didn’t know). I’m also happy to report, in the 10 hours I took to get there - could’ve done it much faster, but what exactly is the point? - were all very unstressed.

One thing I didn’t quite appreciate was the headlight intensity and spread, typical of most modern LED units. If you intend to tour on an XPulse, ensure you invest in a good set of auxiliary lights from day one. The second thing not to my liking (although I am unsure if this is a result of the abusive past of our test bike) is the angle of the side-stand. It’s alright on a light-luggage commute day but with a tail-bag strapped on (leaving no room to swing a leg over) and the bike at a precarious angle, mounting the bike is quite a challenge. I did brave stepping on the inside footpeg to climb aboard, but that lifted the front wheel clean off the ground. Needless to say, it was the last time I tried such a thing and thereafter resorted to parking next to some form of elevation.

Lastly, for a bike that screams ‘practicality’, Hero has done little to equip it with luggage-friendly features. The tail rack is aesthetic at best, and a grille-type design (like on the Himalayan) or an extendable setup would have been tremendously useful. Right now, the XPulse is luggage-friendly only if you don’t include a pillion in your riding plans. Alternatively, you’ll have to fabricate saddle stays, which will then allow for safe mounting of saddlebags (or hard panniers) given the exhaust end-can routing. Hero, can you make it easier for all of us wanting to use the XPulse to its full potential?

In recent weeks, the XPulse has been on a strict commuting diet and in that, too, it is flawless. I take pride in not having to decelerate for speed breakers, revel in its ability to squeeze through gaps and even when an unavoidable pothole crops up, it’s only a matter of a softened ‘thunk.’ Bottomline is, the XPulse is a terrific commuter, with immense potential (and a fair ability, as long as you are reasonable in your demands) as an all-rounder. The only problem is, I’ve been so busy riding it, I haven’t yet thought of a cunning ploy to make Hero never ask for it to be returned. Sigh!

Date Acquired: 14th September, 2019
Total km till date: 4076km
Fuel-efficiency: 44kmpl
Cheers: Fun dynamics, urban comfort
Sneers: LED headlight, could be better equipped

Hero XPulse 200 Video Review

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